Twelve Angry Men- Rose Uses the Jurors to Show the Conflict Between Right
In the play Twelve Angry Men, the playwright Reginald Rose demonstrates through the characters of the jury the conflict between right and wrong and what can come from that conflict. The play was set in the 1950’s, when only men were chosen to be a part of a jury. Rose intentionally creates the characters of the jury to have contradicting values to show how conflict is often necessary before justice can be served. The only way to give the accused a fair trial is if there is conflict occurring between right and wrong between jurors.
Each juror has their own pre-conceived ideas about right and wrong considering it was in the 1950’s. Juror 8 believes the accused has a right to a fair trial; this creates the initial conflict. Conflict is necessary to ensure the right thing is done, which in this case is that the defendant was given a fair hearing. The judge states that “if there’s any reasonable doubt then you must bring me a verdict of not-guilty”. Juror 8 has reasonable doubt and elaborates it to the jury; however some juror’s thoughts are blinded by their prejudice and personal experiences.
Reginald Rose displays the conflict that can occur when decisions are being made using the jurors in Twelve Angry Men. In order for justice to be served discussion must take place, and juror 8 seems to be the only juror who understands the enormity of the situation. From the very beginning Juror 8 realises how serious his role is being a part of a jury; therefore he understands that voting guilty could potentially end a young man’s life. He believes that the accused’s trial deserves some discussion, “it’s just that were talking about someone’s life here. I mean suppose we’re wrong? Juror 8 is the only character who initially brings reason and logic into the jury room, not prejudice.
The other jurors however came into the room filled with prejudice and others were wrapped in their own personal experiences. This is how the conflict starts. Juror 8 understands he must convince the other jurors one by one that there is an element of doubt about each of the pieces of evidence and also doubts about the testimonies of the witnesses. To do this they experience a great deal of conflict which in turn leads them to the verdict of not-guilty and justice had been served due to the conflict between right and wrong.
Juror 3 and 10 play the roles of antagonists in the play who create much conflict about deciding on the verdict of the accused. Both jurors 3 and 10 construct disagreements between the jury as whole. Without both jurors the conflict would not have been so severe and therefore a fair trial for the accused may not have been given. The two jurors both entered the room having already made up their minds about the defendant; these were for two different reasons. Juror 10 is a nasty outspoken man who is biased.
His bigot ways allows emotion to cloud his judgements, “they breed like animals”. His arrogant view on the case and inability builds conflict in the jury room (juror 4 to 10) “we’ve heard enough. Sit down. And don’t open your filthy mouth again”. The conflict leads to more discussion about the trial. The other jurors end up turning their backs to juror 10 and he is the second last man standing to vote not-guilty. Rose portrays Juror 10 in this way to demonstrate right from wrong however showing how a fair trial arose from the conflict .
On the other hand Juror 3 is a man very sure of his opinion and very aggressive which leads to much argument in the jury room. He thinks the accused is a “dangerous killer” and that it’s an undeniable fact that he’s guilty. His personal experiences with his son influence his prejudice and unreasonable nature towards the case. Juror 3’s passionate opinion to the case due to his internalisation of the conflict between himself and his son causes the differences between him and Juror 8 “who do you think you are to start cross-examining us”.
This conflict builds throughout the jury’s deliberations and does not come to an end until Juror 3 realises how he has been behaving and bringing internal conflict into the case. The person against society conflict and internal conflict displayed from jurors 10 and 3 that cause much dispute in the jury room, are put in place specifically by Rose. Rose aimed to display though those two characters to show the conflict that occur between right and wrong. However because of this conflict a fair trial was given to the accused and justice was served.